Japan Review Check: Luigi's Mansion, Castlevania, Disgaea

A quick look at the highlights among the games coming out in Japan this coming week, courtesy the review pages of Famitsu magazine:

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (9/9/8/9, 35 out of 40 points): Although losing out to the PS Vita version of One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 by a single point in the rankings, Famitsu seemed to like this game the most out of the week's portable releases in the review text.

"Like a haunted house in an amusement park, a lot of the sequences here mix anticipatory excitement with scariness to good results, making things fun for the eyes and the ears," wrote editor Reona Ebihara. "There's a lot of neat touches, like how Luigi whistles along with the background music. The stroboscope and other new additions give a lot more variety to the battles and puzzles, ensuring things don't get boring as you play."

"It feels a bit different from games where Mario is the hero," added writer Daichi Baba. "Puzzling and strategic action is key here, and while the game world isn't that big, it's packed with puzzles big and small, and it's lots of fun to discover them all. Multiplayer also offers some fun that isn't in the regular mode, making this worth playing for a while."

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 (10/9/9/9, 37 points): Luigi lost out bigtime to this PS3 game, though-in part, as the editors put it, because this was a demonstrable improvement over the already popular first game.

"The QTE-like controls from the last game are a thing of the past, making this much more of a pure Warriors-like experience to enjoy," wrote Famitsu's Atsuhiro Fujiwara. "I like how the game doesn't end in co-op play if one player gets knocked out. A lot of the story mode, including the original plot elements, will make series fans smile."

"The introduction of popular characters like Crocodile and Mihawk should make fans drool over this," added Morrigan Osada. "The original story episodes get pretty revved up, and there's more variety (and quantity) to the regular foes, making this a far more Warriors-like experience."

Disgaea D2 (9/8/8/8, 33 points): About what you'd figure for NIS's latest — if you like Disgaea, you'll like this, is what Famitsu seems to be saying.

"Just as you'd expect, there's a massive amount of volume to explore," Fujiwara said. "There's also a dizzying number of gameplay elements, but the tutorial is well prepared enough that even casual users can enjoy this well enough. A vast amount of content gets unlocked after beating the game, and really you can just play this forever."

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate (7/8/8/8, 31 points): Reviews were as mixed for this 3DS game in Famitsu as they were in the West, with this game scoring noticeably lower than previous series titles.

"There's a lot of visual touches," wrote Ebihara, "such as enemies squirming in the background, that take advantage of 3D and make for a great atmosphere. Being more of a search-based action game, there's also the fun of trying to fill in the entire map. However, some aspects of the game make it hard to keep the motivation going to do this, from the lack of collecting-based features to the way you can't enter Japanese language text notes on the map."

"I like how you can unleash a variety of moves with relatively simple button presses," added Fujiwara. "The map system is pretty convenient, but hard to use in some spots. Still, the gothic-horror charm of the game is in full play here, matching well with the 2D action."

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